sticky bacon meatballs with redcurrant and onion gravy

Afternoon all! Here for the sticky bacon meatballs? That’s fine, I can see from the spittle around your mouth that you’re ready for your dinner, but I must apologise: today’s blog entry is a long travel story and you might be here a while. Now, back in the day of the longer entries – when we were able to travel to new and exciting places – we used to provide you the courtesy of a button that would take you straight to the recipe so you could skip all those tricksy things like words. But I’m lazy and we have a lot of writing to get through before we get to the sticky bacon meatballs in their fancy redcurrant and onion gravy, so for this occasion, just scroll until you see the food. So, before we do the sticky bacon meatballs, here’s some words and all that.

OH! Actually: before I do that. If you’re not following us on Instagram or Facebook, make sure you dig us out – search for @twochubbycubs on Instagram or Facebook. We have some big news coming next week!

So: Paul and I haven’t had a break in months, and we were forever jetting away on budget airlines such as easyJet and NevaCrash and Ryanair, and it’s been awful not being able to do so. I’ve become so accustomed to ratching about Europe that I’ve started counting at least two of the airport security staff as fuckbuddies, given they’ve pawed at my genitals with their shovel-hands so often. They’re after my very own sticky bacon meatballs. However, coronavirus has put paid to random travelling and as much as I do live for danger sometimes, I don’t fancy heaving my lungs up through my mouth because of a short flight to Krakow. So, for now, Europe is out. We’re told by that walking blonde wheelie-bin in charge to holiday in the UK and to make the most of summer and that’s all well and good as long as you’re happy paying £18,050 for a weekend in Rhyl (rising to £20,000 if you stop for a service station sandwich on the way), but we’re not. What to do? In the end, my hands were tied by Paul coming home early and casually mentioning that he had the rest of the week off. With the terrifying thought of having to look at his haunted face staring at Judge Judy re-runs for a solid three days, I nipped onto Google, booked a couple of things, threw eighteen changes of clothes for me and the same selection of bus-driver shirts he always wears into a suitcase, and we were away.

First stop: a drive to Kanyu Escape rooms in York. Regular readers will know that I am not a gracious passenger and would therefore normally hire a car or take mine rather than let Captain Death and his Fisher Price car drive us anywhere, but my driving licence is with The Powers That Be because I was caught speeding. I know, I’m a horror. In my defence, I was too busy texting mates and trying not to drop my can of Monster to notice the speedometer shrieking. In my further defence, that’s a joke – I was just over the limit and hold my hands up about it: eight years I’ve been driving and that was my first genuine error. So it was that we had to take Paul’s Smart car and I could do no driving on this little break. I’ll say it now: it nearly killed me.

To give you an example of how fractious things get when Paul drives and I drive from the passenger seat – about a week or so before he was driving us to ASDA and I ever so politely asked him to slow it down a shade as light was beginning to warp around the bonnet. He took such umbrage that he did a full emergency stop (in a Smart car, that’s just opening the petrol cap and sticking your hand out of the window) and told me in no uncertain terms that if I criticised his driving ability one more time I’d be walking home. Me, full of spite and knowing there was a cruising ground about half a mile down the road, got out and started walking.

I was out for an hour before I had to text him to pick me up because I was cold – and he was equally as contrite because turns out I had his wallet and he didn’t have enough fuel to get home or money to pay for more. Don’t worry, we laugh about it now as it enters the ‘endlessly mentioned in heated arguments’ rota.

So yes: I’m not a good passenger. Paul isn’t a good driver, given he tends to drive like he’s stolen the car and will come out with reassuring little things like ‘I wish my eyes pointed in the same direction’ and ‘I should probably wear my glasses’ and ‘I don’t need to indicate on this roundabout’, and as such it’s always a heated combination. But I’ll say this: despite the weather being absolutely horrendous, he got us there with minutes to spare and only three of my fingernails embedded in the passenger door handle. A quick primer on escape rooms for those that don’t know: you’re locked in a sealed room and through the process of solving puzzles and riddles, have to escape. We’re huge fans and have been doing them for years, though it’s been a while (thanks COVID) since I did one with my husband. Kanyu Escape is in a curious location on the centre of a roundabout and I was alarmed/excited to see an ambulance on standby outside. I’m always ready for some gas, air and scenes of mild peril, after all.

The chap who met us was brilliant: slightly eccentric and very accommodating and we were in the room in no time. If you have concerns about doing escape rooms in this time of peril, don’t: the good rooms take your temperature on arrival, disinfect the room fully after you leave and make sure there’s sanitiser everywhere. I’m a slight hypochondriac and I felt absolutely safe at all the venues we ended up. The room was based on discovering a new source of electricity and was themed around an old secret laboratory and we absolutely loved it. Some escape rooms are franchises and can feel rather rote in what they offer: you can start undoing a lot of the familiar puzzles straight away. Not this one, he’d designed it himself and though it looked a tad rough and ready, it was terrific. All too often these rooms give you too much help or make the puzzles simple enough for everyone to do, but this one was taxing and we felt like we’d actually accomplished something at the end.

That said, those bank-vault locks where you have to spin the correct number, then spin another number, and then another, all the while making sure you turn the right amount and in the right direction? They can fuck right off. I have enough trouble trying to get my eyes to blink in unison, nevermind something as complicated as that. We lost a bit of time, but still escaped with moments to spare. We’ll be going back to do his other rooms, one of which is an outdoors escape room which I love the sound of. Though I confess, it will be a novelty to be tramping around in the woods and for me not to be pulling my knickers off. I do hope muscle memory doesn’t kick in.

Paul drove us down into Leeds entirely without incident and we stayed over at a Premier Inn next to a TGI Fridays, which as salubrious locations go is up there with having your dinner next to a GUM clinic. I don’t like TGI Fridays: we had a good meal there once and have forever been chasing that high since. I don’t get the appeal: it’s like someone did a trolley dash around Iceland, microwaved everything for one minute less than the instructions suggest and then serve it to you with a forced smile that suggests they’ve got a gun held to the back of their heads. That gun may be smothered in BBQ sauce though, because everything is at TGIs. Anyway, we weren’t going to eat there so it’s all irrelevant, I just wanted a dig. We checked in, with Paul reminded once again of my ability to talk to literally everyone I meet: I spent ten minutes chatting to the chap behind the counter whilst Paul danced in the doorway out of sight trying to communicate to me that he needed to get to the room immediately for a gentleman’s sit-down adventure. Classic. I spotted his anguished movements and wrapped up my conversation over a leisurely few more minutes, and Paul made it with moments to spare.

The room was comfortable as ever, though I was reminded of one thing: when you sleep with Paul you wake in a room entirely disorientated and unsure of where you are for a good few minutes until you realise he’s taken the duvet out out of the cover, polluted the air to such a degree that it’s almost edible and has star-fished his way across the bed. At home I’m used to such chicanery but throw in unfamiliar surroundings and it really can take a while before the fog clears.

Waking the next day refreshed and full of pep, we chose not to bother with the Premier Inn breakfast and instead wander into Leeds to pick breakfast up before our next escape room. A quick bagel with salad and a frank discussion on where things had all gone wrong in our breakfast choices and we were off to the next escape room – but first, spotted! It doesn’t happen an awful lot but you can always tell when someone recognises us because they look, try and work out whether we are the cubs off the Internet and whether they should say hello. Normally by the time they’ve decided to go for it, I’ve got my phone to my ear to pretend I’m on a call or I’ve pushed Paul in front of a bus to cause a distraction but I wasn’t quick enough this time. Mind, she was lovely, although because I’m mean I answered ‘are you the guys with the food blog‘ with ‘absolutely not‘ and pretended to walk on, before apologising profusely. I can’t resist it. We’d have people spotting us twice more that day and please, if you see us, do come say hello. You can delight in how incredibly socially awkward we are.

Now, look at the time. I’ve waffled on as is my way, and here we find ourselves 2000 words in and barely out of the door. So on that note, I’ll revisit this in the next entry. To the sticky bacon meatballs!

sticky bacon meatballs

Sticky bacon meatballs served with cheesy mash and broccoli.

sticky bacon meatballs

I mean, as sticky bacon meatballs go, they’re lovely!

sticky bacon meatballs with onion gravy

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Syn wise, these sticky bacon meatballs clock in at a shade over 2 syns per portion, but I can't be buggered with the quarter syns. The gravy is delicious and worth digging out the redcurrant jelly, but don't shit the bed if you can't find it.

Just a note on this recipe: whilst Chubby Towers is out of action and our kitchen is a no-no, we are using Hello Fresh for our meals and have been doing so for the last six weeks or so. We are not paid to promote them or anything like that, and we have taken this recipe and adjusted it slightly for Slimming World.

That said, honest review time (again, we aren't being paid to promote): we bloody love Hello Fresh. We haven't had a bad meal yet and the lack of food waste is brilliant for us. We only have a tiny kitchen to cook in at the moment and absolutely make do. They're not the cheapest, but we're fans. They do a 'Low Calorie' plan which is spot on if you're counting and we've found it works well with SW. But anyway, no matter what you're after we're sure you'll love it. If you use our referral link you'll get £20 off too! 

Ingredients

  • 900g potatoes
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 30g panko (5 syns) (optional but worth it)
  • 250g lean pork mince
  • 250g lean beef mince
  • 1 red onion
  • 60g reduced-fat cheddar, grated (use your healthy extra)
  • 120g bacon medallions
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 400g broccoli florets
  • 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly (see notes) (4 syns)

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • bring a large saucepan of water to the boil over a high heat, and add 1 tsp salt
  • dice the potatoes into 2cm chunks, and plop into the water. Bring back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes
  • halve any large broccoli florets and spread out onto a baking sheet, spraying with a little oil
  • roast the broccoli in the oven for 15-20 minutes
  • put the mixed herbs, panko and 2 tbsp of water into a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon
  • add the beef and the pork mince to the bowl and mix well 
  • divide and roll the mixture into twenty balls and set aside
  • place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray with a little oil
  • add the meatballs to the pan and cook until browned all over, about 6-7 minutes, turning occasionally
  • meanwhile, halve and thinly slice the red onion, and dice the medallions into small pieces
  • gently remove the meatballs from the pan to a plate and set aside
  • add the onion and bacon to the same pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently
  • add the meatballs back onto the pan and pour over the vegetable stock
  • reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid, and cook for 7-8 minutes
  • meanwhile, drain the potatoes and mash with the grated cheese, and season with salt and pepper
  • once the meatballs have finished cooking, remove the lid and increase the heat to medium-high again
  • gently stir in the jelly until the mixture is thickened and glossy
  • serve the broccoli and mash, and spoon over the meatballs and gravy

Notes

The dish

  • can't find/can't be arsed to find redcurrant jelly? We've used cranberry sauce instead and couldn't tell the difference, just use that! If you're really stuck just leave it out
  • consider the panko optional but it's definitely worth it. Lean mince can sometimes make meatballs dry. Panko helps to retain some moisture, but also add a 'crunchy' texture. You'll find panko in the 'world food' aisles of most supermarkets

The books

  • our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 3000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!

Tools

Courses dinner

Cuisine meatballs

And that’s that! Sticky bacon meatballs done. Want more recipes? Well now.

Enjoy!

J

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